Impassioned Law Experts Testify: If the Ukraine Scandal Isn’t Impeachable, “Nothing Is”

“This is precisely the misconduct that the framers created a Constitution including impeachment to protect against.”

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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Constitutional law expert Michael Gerhardt warned Congress Wednesday that failure to impeach President Donald Trump could set a dangerous precedent for future commanders in chief.

“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, nothing is impeachable,” the professor at University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill said during the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing. “This is precisely the misconduct that the framers created a Constitution including impeachment to protect against.”

“If Congress concludes they’re gonna give a pass to the president,” he continued, “every other president will say, ‘OK, then I can do the same thing,’ and the boundaries will just evaporate.”

An erosion of those boundaries, he concluded, would be “a danger to all of us.”

Gerhardt’s remarks came during the first day of a new phase of the Democrats’ impeachment proceedings, in which Gerhardt—along with Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman, Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan, and George Washington Law professor Jonathan Turley—provided the legal and historical basis by which the president may be found guilty of impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Watch Gerhardt’s remarks below:

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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